Mike Gordon, "Overstep" (ATO Records)
When Mike Gordon steps away from his day job playing bass for mega jam band Phish, he tends to get even more experimental and weird than normal, which is saying a lot.
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But on "Overstep," his fourth solo album not counting two collaborations with Leo Kottke, Gordon creates a much more accessible and radio-friendly record. That's not to say it's boring, because it's not, or predictable, because it isn't.
But what it does have is a more solid rock base, perhaps thanks to the increased role of longtime collaborator and lead guitarist Scott Murawski and producer Paul Q. Kolderie, who previously worked with Radiohead.
What Gordon may have given up in control, he gains by creating a more unified and satisfying sound. Don't worry, Gordon lovers. There's still plenty of his off-the-wall lyrics.
Take "Ether," the first track, where he dreamily describes floating around and encountering a Cyclops and using rocket components to build a new girlfriend.
"Yarmouth Road" is the best song of the bunch, propelled by a Jamaican-influenced bounce, Murawski's wah-wahing guitar and Gordon's plea to "come on home and hang with the bees and buzz with the honeycomb."